Some designers simply pop their heads out from behind the curtains; others grab a model and proudly march the length of the catwalk. Whatever the method, as tradition goes, the show is only over once the designer has taken his or her bow. Which is why the unexpected no-show of Christophe Decarnin at the end of the Balmain show left guests floundering in the dark.
This story first appeared in the March 21, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The designer was off work under doctor’s orders, following treatment in the hospital for depression. Balmain reps said they expect the designer to eventually return to work, though speculation is rife about possible replacements being lined up.
Many questioned the cause of Decarnin’s doldrums. Was it triggered by pressure, or by the departure of his stylist and close ally, French Vogue’s newly appointed editor in chief Emmanuelle Alt, whose personal style came to incarnate Balmain’s aesthetic? Melanie Ward, who is best known for her long creative collaboration with Helmut Lang, was brought in as Decarnin’s new wing woman. In any case, any behind-the-scenes tensions were not reflected in the collection, which garnered positive reviews for a fresh, looser take on the distinct, ultrasexy, disco-meets-rock look carved out by Decarnin since his arrival at the house in 2006.